Rev. Jan Friend (1932-2017)

Jan Friend was a man of deep compassion and empathy who served God and his country for 30 years as a U.S. Army chaplain. He died peacefully on December 13 at the age of 85.

At age 15, Friend emigrated with his family from The Netherlands to Washington. In 1952, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. While serving in Korea as an enlisted man, Friend sensed God calling him into ordained ministry. He completed high school through correspondence, graduated from Calvin College and Seminary, and was ordained in 1962. He then served as an Army chaplain until his retirement in 1992, first as an active duty chaplain and then as a reserve chaplain.

At the end of the Vietnam War, Friend was called to serve in refugee camps, staying at one camp until the last refugee had left. There he met Do Thi Nhi (now Linda Leslie). She returned home with him and became the Friends’ foster daughter.

After leaving active military service, Friend served as pastoral counselor at Bethesda Christian Counseling Center in Denver, Colo., and Lutheran Social Services in Tacoma, Wash.

With his great tenor voice, Friend sang in many choirs through the years. He also enjoyed working in the yard, puttering in the garage, biking, hiking, and kayaking. He and his wife, Lydia, volunteered for many years with World Renew’s Disaster Relief Services. Later he contributed roughly 7,000 hours of volunteer work over 10 years at The Refuge, a nonprofit on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.

Friend will be lovingly remembered by Lydia, his wife of 59 years, and by three biological children, one foster daughter, their spouses, and 11 grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son, David; a grandson, Jason; and grandson Marshall’s wife, Elisa.

About the Author

Janet Greidanus is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

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